Halloween is fast approaching, and here’s your annual reminder that other people’s culture is not your costume. This goes for absolutely every ethnicity and culture.
Now, this is in no way meant to limit you in having your fun. Halloween is about dressing up and playing other parts than your own.
But understanding the difference between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation is integral in being a respectful human being, because when the world sees you as that culture you’re choosing to emulate for a night, it’s not funny.
According to Cambridge Dictionary, cultural appropriation is “the act of taking or using things from a culture that is not your own, especially without showing that you understand or respect this culture.” Cultural appreciation, on the other hand, is centered around respect and honor to the culture you are recognizing.
A good example of this would be attending one of the great events put on by any number of cultural organizations around campus. Clubs such as Hispanic American Leadership Organization, Asian Student Conference, and the Black Student Union may sponsor an event relating to their culture to bring awareness and appreciation to a specific event or holiday of cultural significance.
Showing up and partaking in these celebrations is a fantastic way to support your fellow Shockers. These events can be great opportunities to educate yourself without taking up space.
I know that often the intentions behind problematic costumes aren’t cruel, and being called out on offensive behavior will automatically put any person on the defensive.
It’s no secret that call-out culture, and cancel culture, can be extremely toxic. But the focus should be not on your well-meaning intentions, but on how your actions could have seriously offended another person.
However, taking that opportunity to learn and acknowledge where you went wrong says more about you as a person than your intentions may have.
In summary, be who you want, but be mindful. Go trick-or-treating as Black Panther, minus the blackface of course. Because no one will be offended by a Marvel superhero, but painting your skin to try and match Chadwick Boseman’s is a total no no.